Not even the staunchest music skeptic expected A Piece of My Passion, Juanita Bynum's third album, to become the gospel smash it did in 2006. The two-disc set topped Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart for weeks, and it wasn't long until Bynum scored for herself her first gold album. It was an impressive feat no matter how you looked at it: Bynum's day job isn't music, the album was released independently, and there was no blockbuster marketing plan behind it. Instead, the flocks who bought A Piece of My Passion did so based on Bynum's multimedia appeal: she's a self-proclaimed prophetess, best-selling author, speaker, televangelist...and now bona fide contemporary gospel singer. But the thing with Passion is how little of it actually is gospel music. Opener "Break Forth Praise" reminds one of a Sunday morning shout session all right, but from there on out the album takes a dramatic turn. Unexpectedly, Bynum turns into an adult contemporary balladeer, as one song after the next consists of sumptuous, densely orchestrated pop numbers large on sentiment and zeal -- think "Wind Beneath My Wings"-era Bette Midler gone inspirational. Curiously, many of the songs come from unlikely sources, like "Above All Else," a song written by U.K. worship leaderVicky Beeching but attributed mistakenly to CCM-er Rebecca St. James in the liner notes (on a similar note, some songs penned by Hillsong Australia songwriters are credited to Hillsong, not to the songwriters themselves). This adds sloppiness to a set that, while heartfelt, it's ultimately too long and overdone to the point of exhaustion. A Piece of My Passion probably makes for a decent post-conference souvenir for those lining up to see Bynum, but in practice, it's far from being the homerun its chart positioning lets on. ~ Andree Farias, Rovi
Aretha's awe-inspiring (and Grammy-winning) 1972 gospel album ascended to #7 on the pop album charts and featured legendary performances of How I Got Over; You've Got a Friend , and her charting rendition of Wholy Holy . This 2-CD set presents, for the first time, the entire unedited performance-at 27 tracks, it's nearly double the length of the original release! This Rhino re-release of Amazing Grace is at least as much a work of love as of marketing. The sound is beefier and clearer, but most importantly, the two-day church sessions are included. So, there's much more church (specifically, Reverend James Cleveland's marvelous orating) on the record, as well as contemporaryisms such as a cool organ rendition of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." Originally released as a double LP in 1972, Amazing Grace cracked the Billboard Top 10 on its release, making it one of the best selling gospel records of all time. Grace was recorded in a large Baptist church with an ultraenthusiastic audience in the pews, a full, funky band, and the Southern California Community Choir under the direction of Franklin's mentor, Cleveland. Her voice is melismatic and intensely emotional, yet pure and controlled, as if she is channeling the Holy Ghost. Franklin's father, the brilliant preacher Reverend C.L. Franklin, makes a brief, proud appearance, remarking, "She has never left the church!" Other highlights include the beautiful "Wholy Holy," an 11-minute, heart-stopping "Amazing Grace," and Inez Andrews's stirring "Mary, Don't You Weep." Way more than a return-to-the-roots record, this set is an inspired gospel-soul workout that arguably showcases Franklin's strongest singing ever. --Mike McGonigal
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Brand: Provident Distribution Group
This newest release in McClurkin's catalog is traditional, high church, praise and worship gospel music exhibiting McClurkin's unique ability to simultaneously entertain and heal. Recorded live at The Rock Church in Virginia Beach, VA on July 16th, 2004, and backed by a live orchestra, this album is rich with hilarious commentary and poignant testimonies alike, certain to delight and move all those who partake. Verity. 2005. Diversity is more than just a buzzword for Donnie McClurkin. As shown by his massive success both inside and outside the U.S., the right reverend from Long Island embraces many stylistic approaches (and languages) as he delivers his brand of gospel. It's never more evident than in Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs, a McClurkin double-disc live worship celebration. Opening with Robin Mark's "Days of Elijah" and McClurkin's own "I Will Sing," a praise-and-worship motif sets the stage for later similar tracks like Michael W. Smith's "Agnus Dei" and the medley "Draw Me Close/I Am Thine Oh Lord." Backed by a 40-piece orchestra and a powerhouse choir, McClurkin closes the opening disc strongly in tandem with the legendary Richard Smallwood on the classic "Total Praise." The second disc is dedicated more to traditional gospel with tracks like "I Love To Praise Him" and "Jesus Medley." McClurkin livens up the fare with the "Language" medley, singing in English, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, ending the string with Joann Rosario as they duet on "Saciame Senor Yo Se Que Estas Aqui." You shouldn't miss the bonus cut here as well with McClurkin and Kirk Franklin teaming up for a slick and pleasing cover of the 70's soul classic "Ooh Ooh Child." The offering is generous on Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs and Pastor McClurkin holds nothing back in this fire-and-ice worship celebration. --Michael Lyttle
Manufacturer: EMI Gospel
Brand: Capitol Christian Distribution
Continuing in the highly successful series of Gospel's Best: Men, Women, Choirs and Gospel's Best: Live, EMI Gospel releases the next installment, Gospel's Best Worship. Comprised of today's most popular worship songs in churches plus worship songs from the Gospel community sung by artists such as CeCe Winans, Smokie Norful, and Kierra Sheard, this collection is sure to be a hit with fans not only of Gospel music but of worship music as well. These are the songs sung by millions each week in churches across the world
Sting: Mercury Falling! TRACKS: 1. The Hounds of Winter; 2. I Hung My Head; 3. Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot; 4. I Was Brought to My Senses; 5. You Still Touch Me; 6. I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying; 7. All Four Seasons; 8. La Belle Dame Sans Regrets; 9. Valparaiso; & 10. Lithium Sunset.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Brand: Provident Distribution Group
2012 two CD set. Filled with songs that lived at the top of the charts at Gospel radio, this double CD set is chock full of hits, including songs from Kirk Franklin , Mary Mary, and Marvin Sapp plus newcomers Wess Morgan and BET Sunday Best winner Le'Andria Johnson. Each WOW Gospel installment to date has achieved great success, garnering Gold and platinum certifications along with a faithful fanbase.
Manufacturer: Kee Music Group
Brand: SELECT-O-HITS, INC.
Amazing - 6:02 2 My Worship - 5:29 3 Wake Up - 4:56 4 Life & Favor - 6:20 5 I Win (Prelude) - 2:19 6 I Win - 5:36 7 Fill This House - 4:56 8 Made to Worship - 5:44 9 Life & Favor Remix - 3:57 10 Another Chance - 5:14 11 Bless Your Name - 5:47 12 He's Working It Out - 5:36